Three Levels of Separation
What do you do when you realize the whole world lies in wickedness? (1 John 5:19) How do you go about separating?
To separate doesn’t necessarily mean to keep apart physically. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word separate means to disunite, to divide, to sever. To separate implies leaving something you were once a part of. As followers of Christ, we are called to separate from everything which is not approved by our Heavenly Father. He wants us pure and unspotted from the world (James 1:27).
Separation is done at three levels. It is similar to refining gold. During the first stage, big hunks of impurities are separated out. Then in the next stages, more imperfections are removed until you have a finely polished bar of gold. That’s just what the Father wants with us. And it takes several swipes until we are finally unspotted from the world.
The first stage of separation is simply separation from outward sin. The next level is separation from the thoughts of sin. The third stage is separation from organizations that promote sin.
Jesus starts off His ministry by commanding separation. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent! for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). In other words, change your direction. Stop pleasing self and start pleasing God. Apostle Paul says it this way, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
This first level of separation, from sin itself, is even taught by the churches that are in harlotry with the State. Most people, if they try, can comply, at least outwardly.
Most people never get beyond this personal level of cleaning the outside of the cup. But Jesus goes even further. And this is where it starts getting to be a rough road.
Jesus also requires separating from even the thoughts of sin. On this second level, we purge even our desire to sin. We don’t just stop doing it. We stop THINKING about it.
Years ago a Godly preacher tried to teach me this higher level of repentance. He caught me pulling a prank. I was about 14 and attending a Church camp. I hated being awakened early in the morning by the sound of the bell, so I found a ladder and removed the rope from the bell so it could not ring. Then the camp started using car horns to wake us. But I disconnected the horns.
Finally, I got caught in the very act by this preacher. As he walked me back to my cabin, I told him how sorry I was. The preacher paused and looked me straight in the eyes, “Paul, are you sorry because you got caught, or are you sorry because it was wrong?”
He knew that if I was sorry merely because I got nabbed, I would be pulling another prank at my first opportunity. But if I was sorry because I knew it was wrong, I would change my ways. This is Godly sorrow.
Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “Be born again.” That’s a little different from merely repenting. We cannot be merely born of the flesh. We must also be born of the Spirit. Through this new birth of the spirit, we enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, into God’s government. It means putting away the old man with all his lusts and desires and becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus. This is a rough one, but it doesn’t stop there.
The next level of separation is not just separating from sin, but separating from organizations that promote sin. Have no connection with them. This includes nations where men are lording over other men and making laws in defiance of God’s Word.
Look at what Apostle Paul says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Here we see that we are going to be separating from whole nations because they are not of Christ. And if we do that, we have a warning: “He that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey” (Isaiah 59:15).
Anyone who attempts to separate from the nations, will become a prey for the world to attack. Jesus says, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19)